LibriVox recording of The Life of Kit Carson by Edward S. Ellis.
Read by Laura Victoria
Christopher Carson, or as he was familiarly called, Kit Carson, was a man whose real worth was understood only by those with whom he was associated or who closely studied his character. He was more than hunter, trapper, guide, Indian agent and Colonel in the United States Army....His lot was cast on the extreme western frontier, where, when but a youth, he earned the respect of the tough and frequently lawless men with whom he came in contact. Integrity, bravery, loyalty to friends, marvelous quickness in making right decisions, in crisis of danger, consummate knowledge of woodcraft, a leadership as skilful as it was daring; all these were distinguishing traits in the composition of Carson and were the foundations of the broader fame which he acquired as the friend and invaluable counselor of Fremont, the Pathfinder, in his expeditions across the Rocky Mountains. (Summary from the Introduction)
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July 3, 2016 Subject:
Kit Carson - don't let his memory die
Johnny Horton was a top-of-the charts pop singer in the ‘50s who’s songs were about American History. One of his songs I really like is “Jim Bridger”. A stanza goes like this:
There's poems and there's legends that tell of Carson's fame
Yet compared to Jim Bridger Kit was civilized and tame
These words are straight from Carson's lips if you place such store by him
If there's a man who knows this God forsaken land it's Jim
Well no. Without taking anything away from the great Jim Bridger, after you listen to Kit Carson’s story, you will see that nobody tops Carson – nobody. His life was so stunning that if a fiction writer made up and wrote about such a character, I wouldn’t read it, thinking the fictional character was a ridiculously preposterous creation.
I was appalled, not by Carson, but by standard American mores of the time that condoned the wanton destruction of wildlife; especially of the beautiful and environmentally beneficial beaver for the sake of making people’s stupid hats. I was raised in a time where we were educated by Steve Erwin, the Crocodile Hunter, who would catch some vile sake with his bare hands and say, “Isn’t she a beauty!” But the 1840’s were a long time ago and things have improved.
However, I must take exception with part of the story. At the end, the narrative would have us believe that the American Indians were beautiful, peaceful, and tragic victims who engaged in savage acts only because they were emulating the Europeans. There is, no doubt, truth in this, but human nature dictates that all of us are subject to a constant barrage of propaganda about everything. The current narrative de jour is, “Indians good, white people bad!” Revisionist history is common. For example, many amateur students of history, like me, know that Manhattan island was named after the Indian phrase, “The place where everybody got drunk”, as the Dutch provided fire water as part of the bargain. But then, a contemporary historian says, “You know, that phrase could also mean, “Land of peaceful beautiful flowers!” So you get the picture.
I live in Florida and have been to the Florida Keys several times. I know that the word “keys” derives from Spanish meaning “bones”. When the first Europeans arrived there, they were appalled that the land was littered with human bones, indicating unspeakable Indian-on-Indian savagery. So, that meaning, being not politically correct, is today subject to revision as well. I believe I do not need to elaborate further, but I could make your hair stand on end by relating pre Colombian native history.